It’s estimated that as much as 90% of the buying process is now completed before a customer even reaches out to a company’s sales department. Rather than learning about the product from a person, most buyers prefer to do their own research. This is true for both B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer). Often, the research comes in the form the content provided by the marketing team, and increasingly, that content is online – on social media, websites, blogs, etc.
Because of this, sales needs marketing more than ever before, and needs the marketing content to be awesome. And yet, we continue to hear stories of sales and marketing leaders not working together, or the teams working toward different goals or metrics.
Can’t we all just get along?
Often, communication is the key issue between sales and marketing collaboration. The two departments may be separated by management, location and strategy. To further complicate things, each department may have a sense of pride and self-preservation that, unfortunately, can lead to both believing they don’t need the other.
But let’s be clear about one thing: both sales and marketing professionals have unique skills to bring to the table. Sales professionals must form quick, trusting relationships with savvy strangers who know they’re going to be asked to buy something. Marketers are tasked with being heard in an increasingly loud digital marketing landscape, relying on both data and creativity in their strategy. Both are charged with making the company appear desirable to the target customer.
5 Tips to Improve SMB Marketing & Sales Collaboration
If your sales and marketing teams are running on separate tracks, here’s five suggestions to try to get the teams working together and on the same track.
Tip #1: Get to KNOW Your Sales Team
Yep, relationship 101: Get to know your teams. This may be difficult for those with many office locations, but understanding what daily life is like for the people whose job you’re facilitating can make a huge difference. Research has shown befriending co-workers improves collaboration, productivity and job satisfaction. Even if you don’t have to work together every day, making an effort to get to know your sales team on friendly terms can open up channels of communication to make everyone’s job easier.
Tip #2: Streamline Your Shared Tools
Sales professionals aren’t usually hired for their skilled use of CRM systems or ability to edit HTML emails. Even so, sales teams are often inundated with complex tools meant to help the sales process. If your marketing department has ownership of sales tools, from email automation to prospecting lists, try to make those as easy to use as possible. Again, this is also where knowing your team is an advantage. Be available to help with tools, and be open to criticism of why tools aren’t as functional in practice as advertised. If you are planning to add new tools, bring in sales people to help with the criteria, review and selection.
Tip #3: Make Sales Collateral and Promotional Materials Easy to Find
Your organization may have promotional materials and sales collateral available in a few different places. Whether on an intranet, a public drive, within the CRM system or in some other database, keeping the sales team up-to-date on what materials are available can be a challenge. If your company uses a CRM, and especially if it’s a CRM with integrated email, consider finding a way to build a collateral library in as well.
Tip #4: Give Everyone Access to Analytics
If your department uses tools like Rival IQ or marketing automation software with reporting, share the stats and analysis with the sales team. Sometimes seeing the big picture of what’s working and what’s not online will add helpful perspective. For example, when you do A/B testing with mass emails (we are huge MailChimp fans!), perhaps you find those with numbers in the subject line (“Save 65%!” or “5 Reasons to go with ___”) get opened twice as often as those without numbers (“Save with us” or “You’ll love our product). When your sales team is prospecting, they may benefit from that marketing reporting knowledge.
Also, include the sales team in your regular analytics reporting on social media, website traffic, email marketing, etc.
Tip #5: Have Shared Metrics of Success
This is perhaps the most important one and where you should start. It’s amazing, but many marketing and sales teams do not share a metric for which they are both held accountable. I believe marketing teams should also have revenue as part of their metrics, so they care about the funnel end-to-end, instead of just the top of it. While you’re at it, bring in the customer support team, and include them in the shared metrics of success!
How Does Your Marketing Team Win with Sales?
Whether you’re a department manager or in the entry-level trenches, you can help bring together the marketing and sales departments. Doing so can improve productivity and efficiency across the board, but, more importantly, it can drive greater revenue and business success for you all.
How does your marketing department work with sales? Or do you not buy the collaboration argument? Leave your thoughts on how and why in the comments!